Once more, we find ourselves at the end of another fleeting and fabulous summer season, and looking forward to all the pleasures and pastimes of fall. Quite often, this is the part of the year when we go back inside, and invest some time and money in the improvement of inner spaces.
Most of us have had some experience, good or bad, in decorating, renovating or constructing a home. I’d like to talk about Interior Design, often confused with or assumed to be the same as Interior Decorating, what a Designer does, when you might need one, and some basics of the design process.
When we talk about Interior Decorating, what comes to mind? Things like furniture, drapery, artwork, accessories, colour and arrangement are all aspects of decoration, and fall under the category we refer to as F.F. & A., or furniture, finishes and accessories.
There are as many ways to decorate as there are homes and people to decorate for. Your interior should be as individual as you are and reflect your tastes, interests and pastimes. A good Decorator or Designer will work with you, using your space and your favourite things, and create a look that works for your family’s lifestyle.
Interior Design follows more stringent rules. While still a very creative process, designers look at the overall picture, define wants and needs, and create a vision of your space along with a path to get there. They will use existing elements, building code, design standards and industry resources to accomplish the end result.
A design is created to meet a need, or solve a problem – rooms too small, dark, colourless – not enough storage, closets, bathrooms – the changing needs of our families as they grow or shrink.
To begin the process, we look at Form and Function. Things like colour, style, shape, dimension, scale, and decorative finish make up the “form” or appearance of an interior. To determine the “function” of a space, we ask questions: Who, What, Where and How (and sometimes When!).
Who will use this space? If we’re looking at a kitchen, will it be just one person preparing the meals, or does the whole family get involved? How tall are they? How old? Do they have any special needs, i.e.: left-handed, kosher, physically challenged, etc.?
How is the space used? What is in the space, what is needed or missing? What goes in the Food prep zone and the Cleaning zone? How do they interact and how much space needs to be allotted for each?
How big is it, can it and should it be expanded or re-organized, or moved to another, more convenient area? What finishes are the most practical and well-suited to the tasks required?
Where in the house is it located – next to the dining room, overlooking a yard, east, west, north or south facing? How much light is required, what kind, and where should it go?
Does it require an eating or sitting area? Is their space for a meal-planning or telephone area?
Once all of our needs and wants define the Function of our space, we can work on a design to meet them using Design Principles and Standards, and all the attributes of Form.
There is an expression in the industry which you may have heard – “Form follows Function”. This means that the actual function of an object, the need it’s designed to meet, dictates its shape or form.
There is however, another expression – “guess he chose Form over Function”. This is used to describe something that may be impractical, like a car covered in grass instead of paint, or something more artistic, or fanciful, than useful.
So back in we go, enjoy those cool nights and cozy interiors, and dream and plan in colour!